However, Liviu Dragnea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development
and Public Administration said the Executive and the banks must also be partners in the possibly negative effects, such as costs or system malfunctions.
The government is willing to amend legislation so as to enable banks to become involved in the initial phase of authorizing European fund beneficiaries, Liviu Dragnea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration, stated at a conference on regional development organized at BNR’s banking community arenas.
“We are willing to make all necessary legislative changes in accordance with European Commission regulations. However, we will not sit and wait for the banking system; the measures taken so far and to be taken in the future have a very clear target – to support all potential beneficiaries, public institutions or private companies, in accessing European funds,” Dragnea said.
As early as spring, banks represented by ARB (the Romanian Banks’ Association) suggested authorities they should become involved as co-financers in the initial phase of management authorities authorizing projects to receive European funds.
“Our proposal is for the legislation to allow banks to include experts as participants, along with management authorities, and when a project has been approved, the co-financer should be involved in this process; when the client goes to the bank, everything should be known beforehand to speed up the process,” Radu Gratian Ghetea, chairman of ARB, stated in turn. He pointed out that discussions are being held between the Association, the European Funds Minister and Eugen Teodorovici, Minister Delegate, to find solutions for increasing the banks’ involvement, but there are technical aspects that pose problems, but he avoided pinpointing them. Since ARB does not have legislative initiative rights, the ministry should submit the proposal to the government.
“I understand the banking system’s desire to become involved, but it cannot only be involved in the good aspects; we must also be partners in the possibly bad aspects, such as costs or system malfunctions. However, I believe we can reach a solution agreed-upon by all parties,” Dragnea added.
Ghetea explained that not all banks would be involved in this process, but they will all have the option. Some of them are interested in co-financing projects with European funds in the agriculture or local administration sector, but others are more interested in offering loans to multinational companies. The chairman of ARB stated consultations will take place at the level of the Association regarding ways of approaching the topic of public authority financing threshold through European funds at the bankers’ meeting with the IMF. The ARB chairman suggested Eugen Teodorovici, European Funds Minister, could propose a legislative initiative on increasing the flow of access to European funds by local public authorities, while taking into account ARB’s proposals.
Loans for local authorities,
investments and co-financing
On Thursday, the chairman of ARB also ‘called on’ the government to increase the flow of access to European funds by UATs (territorial and administrative divisions). In areas such as Cluj, Constanta, Iasi and Timisoara, there is great local interest in accessing European funds and radically changing the local level of civilization. However, access is encumbered because of a particular program, so to speak, of liberalizing access to loans, Ghetea emphasized. He added that in some areas local public authorities experience delays in accessing funds due to formalities.
The amount to be allocated next year to local authorities for loaning activities – at least RON 800 million, the maximum threshold in 2013 – will be destined to investments in and co-financing of European programs, not arrears, Liviu Dragnea stated.
The threshold, he pointed out, will probably be divided for each UAT category, following discussions with the Public Finance Minister, meaning a significant portion will be allocated to towns, one portion to counties and another to rural areas.
EUR 2.4 bln in structural and cohesion funds attracted in 2013
Before October 22, the value of structural and cohesion funds returned to Romania in 2012 by the European Commission amounted to approximately EUR 2.4 billion, according to a press release by the European Funds Ministry. “This year, Romania has cashed in approximately EUR 2.4 billion from the European Commission, more than between 2007 and 2012, when our country only received EUR 2.2 billion in allocated funds. This was accomplished through implemented measures ensuring that payments for operational programs were resumed by the Commission this year, by payments made by project beneficiaries, and the system’s simplification and increase in efficiency,” Eugen Teodorovici, European Funds Minister, stated, according to the cited source. The minister said Romania “was first among State Members in the growth rate of reimbursements made by the Commission in the first nine months of this year, 75 percent compared to the level between 2008 and 2012.”
Highways: Romania lagging behind
Romania’s immediate priorities should be finalizing the Transilvania highway and the Pan-European Corridor IV, thus connecting her to EU infrastructure, since Romania and Bulgaria are the only two EU countries without such connections and risk being left behind. “Regarding the process of integration in the European Union, indeed, we are part of the European Union, but if we take a look at infrastructure, we are not included. Us and Bulgaria, we are the only countries that are not connected to the European Union by a highway. That is why finalizing the Transilvania highway and the IV Pan-European Corridor are top priorities,” Marcel Heroiu, social development expert for the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia, stated during the event. He pointed out that Bulgaria has already built a highway that goes through Serbia and bypasses Romania. According to the World Bank official, if Romania encourages EU expansion by including the Republic of Moldavia, the Ukraine, Turkey and Serbia, it can become the center of commercial flow, making the transition from the back of the class to a more central position within the EU.